The New Home Economics


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The perfect is the enemy of the good

This phrase has been in my mind lately — I read it in reference to farming several times over the past few months. It makes sense: there are many really great family farmers out there who may not be certified organic but are still doing right by their animals and their land. Many of them can’t afford the lengthy and expensive process to become certified organic.

In my own life, it has become painfully obvious that I have really overstretched myself lately.  The Master Gardener program + starting a new job + trying to get my own garden efforts for 2010 underway + parenting two two-year-olds is really taking a toll.  I have been really short-tempered lately and my heart is just not in everything I’m doing (at least, not as much as I’d like it to be).

I usually try to be as positive as possible on the blog, but on the other hand I don’t want you all to think it’s constant sunshine and lollipops around here, either.  Here are two recent big FAILS and the silver lining in the second one:

Firstly, this pizza.  What a disaster.  We had some bread dough in the refrigerator that needed to be used up.  Adam was not around and I tried to make pizza with the same method I’ve seen him use: assembling the pizza on the wooden peel and then sliding it onto the hot pizza stone into the oven.  Well, it stuck to the peel and the only way I could slide it off was to fold it up and turn it into this horrible-looking calzone.  Which I then baked and served anyway, even though it was super doughy in the middle.  Nice to know I can be relied upon for a simple meal when Dad’s not at home, eh?

Next up on my walk of shame:

Last fall, when I pruned out all my dead raspberry canes, I must have been completely brain dead afterwards because it seems I put the entire giant pile of them into my compost pile.  Many of them were very thick and woody — these things do not break down quickly or well.

So after the entire winter, this part of the compost bin, which should have been completely full by now of beautiful, dark, rich, compost… was full of… soggy sticks.  However, when I pulled out all the sticks and put them somewhere else, I did manage to find a little bit of good stuff:

I’m going to try and plant the garden this week!  We’re having such an early spring, there’s no reason not to get a jump-start on some of cold-tolerant veggies like peas, cabbage, and radishes.

My goal for this week (aside from getting my garden in) is to be kind to myself.  Silly that this must be a conscious goal, yes?


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Recipe: pizza

Frozen pizza used to be a staple in our household in our college years.  Then for a couple of glorious years, delivery pizza was our weekly treat.  When our twins were first born we were ordering pizza 2-3 times a week.  Both frozen pizza and delivery pizza are rather high in fat, and frozen pizza is chock full of preservatives.  Nary a whole grain is to be found in either one.

If you have a bread machine, you can easily make your own pizza dough to whip out your own healthier pizza.  The best part is that the ingredients for pizza dough are not perishable so you can put everything in the bread machine right away in the morning and set your delay timer and the dough will be ready and waiting for a very quick meal when you get home.

This recipe is adapted from the Cuisinart recipe booklet that came with my bread machine:

Pizza Dough
1 c. warm water
3/4 tsp. honey or sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (a generous 2)
1 1/2 c. white bread flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat bread flour
1 3/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
1 tsp. oregano (optional)

Put all ingredients in bread machine, set to “dough” setting, 1.5 lb loaf size.  If possible, the first time you make this watch it while it goes through the first mixing/kneading cycle to make sure it’s not too wet and not too dry.

The more whole wheat flour you use, the trickier that part is because whole grain flours absorb more liquid, and they absorb it more slowly, than white flour.  So it’s good in general to keep an eye on your dough the first couple times you make any bread machine recipe and try to adapt it to make it more whole grain.

pizzadough

Preheat oven to 450.  Lightly grease a med.-large size cookie sheet and spread your dough out as thin as you like.  Top with pizza sauce, or pesto, or just brush with olive oil, some toppings, and bake in a 450 degree oven for 12-20 min.  Makes a nice big pizza, 5-7 servings.

pizzahalfeaten
I made this pizza last Thursday.  What ends up happening around here is that pizza is the last thing I make when we have run out of EVERYTHING so my toppings are really random.  This pizza was topped with: adzuki beans, whole garlic cloves, a 1/2 can of tomatoes which were cooked with a little bit of onion and spices, a little bit of grated monterey jack cheese, and a little bit of grated parmesan rind.